Tag: mental illness

Dear Friend

Posted 24 January, 2017 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in musings

Edit: I wrote this in the darkness, hit publish, and went to bed. When I woke up three hours later I regretted hitting the publish button – thinking this would be too alarming for friends and family, or that it would come across as attention-seeking, overly dramatic, or just plain ridiculous. Apparently though, those who did have the chance to view this in those three hours didn’t feel that way. I’ve gotten a number of emails that this meant something to some people. If I can shine a light in the dark to anyone, then I need to do that. I owe that to others who face similar demons and might possibly benefit from this.


Dear Friend,

Perhaps you’ve never known anyone who has suffered from mental illness before. Perhaps you were never close with them. We have become close in recent years. All the same, I’m not sure you understand who I am at my worst.

At my worst, I am sad. But I am also more than sad: I am hopeless. This might seem like semantics — meaningless words, I promise you to me, it is more than that. When I say I am hopeless what I mean is that I live every day of my life with a low grade desire to die. Am I suicidal every day of my life? No. Not really. I don’t have a plan. I have no desire to readily accomplish hurting myself. Would I be upset if a truck hit me or lightning struck me? No. This is not a normal sentiment, yet it is what I live with. All day, every day. I’m not living the dream.

At my worst I tear up in my office. By the time I reach the point of tears, especially tears I show you friend, it’s too late. At my worst I tell you how lonely I am, but it feels like whining. Most days I smile and do my job as effectively as I can. I go to court, flatter opposing counsel, charm court staff, return to my office – close the door and cry a little.

These feelings verbalized, terrify most people. I don’t verbalize them very often – even to myself. I understand that they may terrify you as well. Stick with me, please.

I don’t have cancer, I don’t have diabetes. I wish I did. These diseases are understood, accepted, embraced by doctors – by citizens. No one tells a cancer patient to suck it up, get out of bed, and go to work. No one tells the diabetic they should be ashamed for taking insulin.

I’m okay. I’ll continue to be okay. But it’s a struggle for me. It’s the same struggle that millions of others live with every day. I know I’m not alone. And neither are you.

April @ The Steadfast Reader



Furiously Happy: A Night With Jenny Lawson

Posted 17 November, 2015 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in Authors, Reviews

Furiously Happy: A Night With Jenny LawsonFuriously Happy by Jenny Lawson
Published by Pan Macmillan on September 24th 2015
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, General, Humor, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 256

In Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson regaled readers with uproarious stories of her bizarre childhood. In her new book, Furiously Happy, she explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. And terrible ideas are what Jenny does best.As Jenny says: 'You can't experience pain without also experiencing the baffling and ridiculous moments of being fiercely, unapologetically, intensely and (above all) furiously happy.' It's a philosophy that has - quite literally - saved her life.Jenny's first book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened, was ostensibly about family, but deep down it was about celebrating your own weirdness. Furiously Happy is a book about mental illness, but under the surface it's about embracing joy in fantastic and outrageous ways. And who doesn't need a bit more of that?

So, once again, my sister and I had the opportunity to seek out Jenny Lawson and get signed books. This time however, we also got to hear her speak and read. We also encountered some of the weird counter-culture that Lawson seems to attract.

But let’s start with the book. Furiously Happy is not nearly as funny as Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but I will venture to say that it is infinitely more important. The essays in the book on mental health were so raw, so real, and so incredibly honest it was almost painful to hear her read them in the auditorium. While not as painful to read them on my own – they did have a sense of heartache surrounding them, more so when you consider that one in four Americans is affected by mental illness and there is still such shame and stigma surrounding it.

Furiously Happy starts out strong, but then as the chapters roll on it begins to fizzle out. Interspersed in the book are essays having little or nothing to do with mental illness that feel a bit forced in an attempt at levity, which admittedly, perhaps Furiously Happy needs to be bearable at all, so painful and honest are the essays concerning Lawson’s mental health.

So then there was the question and answer session and the book signing. Lawson’s presentation on stage was engaging and wonderful. The fans she attracts are… devoted, to say the least. Not that it can be blamed on Lawson, but many of the questions weren’t questions at all — they were long personal stories that I can’t imagine much of the audience cared about. However Lawson responded to each anecdote with poise and charm. Despite her anxiety issues, she is a complete pro. A memorable part of the evening was when her husband Victor called and she decided to take the call on speakerphone. Why yes I did take video of it…


You may recall last time I had a book signed by Lawson I asked her to sign it as Stephen King. I cursed myself while waiting in line to get Furiously Happy signed that I failed to bring a Stephen King book with me for her to sign as herself. C’est la vie.

Me, Jenny Lawson, and a fabulous inscription.

Me, Jenny Lawson, and a fabulous inscription.

Overall the night was a success and while Furiously Happy does have its weaknesses, I definitely think that it’s important for the normalization of mental illness the way the world stands today.

Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf had a completely different take on things, however.

What about you, Reader? Do you enjoy Lawson’s blog? What’s your take?


April @ The Steadfast Reader